KOLKATA: With an eye on gaining political mileage, the BJP will rope in Union home minister Amit Shah in Kolkata to inaugurate at least four Durga puja pandals.
An all-out jostling to influence puja organisers is clearly visible in some pockets of the state between the Trinamool and the BJP, which took its tally to 18 from 2 in the Lok Sabha polls storming into the ruling party’s bastion.
“‘Shah will land in Kolkata on October 1 and will inaugurate four puja pandals. Besides, he will address a gathering in the city as well. We have applied for using Netaji Indoor Stadium as the venue,” said a BJP leader.
A south Kolkata puja committee, Friends’ Club in Triangular Park, invited Shah to inaugurate the pandal though the organisers preferred to identify themselves apolitical. ‘’We are inviting Shah as the Union home minister. His presence will make the people of the locality proud,’’ said a spokesperson of the club.
BJP sources in Kolkata said many puja organisers contacted them to invite the party’s heavyweights to inaugurate their pujas. “We are not disclosing their names as last year, many organisers, who wanted our party leaders to inaugurate their pujas, felt pressure from the ruling party leaders after their names were disclosed,’’ said a BJP leader. The Trinamool enjoys its dominance in Durga puja festival and to maintain it, chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced a fund of `28,000 each for 28,000 puja committees in Bengal. Last year, the grant was `10,000.
Trinamool heavyweights like MLA Sujit Bose, Sports minister Aroop Biswas, rural development minister Subrata Mukherjee and urban development minister and mayor of Kolkata Municipal Corporation Firhad Hakim are closely associated with Kolkata’s biggest Durga puja clubs.